It has been 15 years since Cindy Blodgett ended a special four-year relationship with the Bangor Auditorium.
But the memories from her Class A high school tournament days will never fade, according to the former Lawrence High School of Fairfield and University of Maine phenom, who is in her second year as the head coach at Maine.
“The tournament was spectacular,” said Blodgett. “It’s so funny. I was down in Augusta [for the Class A Tournament] last Friday and I was sitting with Mr. [Bruce] Cooper [her former high school coach]. We talked about what a great time it was.”
The four-time, first team Bangor Daily News All-Maine selection said she never got nervous before the games.
“I was always jacked up and excited. It was our stage,” said Blodgett who led Lawrence to four state Class A titles.
Blodgett said tourney week was her favorite time of year.
“That’s how I spent my February vacation: just watching those [B, C and D] games on TV. I couldn’t wait to get to the Bangor Auditorium [for the A tournament],” said Blodgett, who played from 1990-94 and is the state’s all-time leading career scorer with 2,565 points.
“I loved playing at the Bangor Auditorium. I liked everything about it, from the lighting to the dark, dank entryway,” recalled Blodgett. “It was, by far, better than any other location. Every single one of those games was special. I was fortunate in that I had great teammates.”
Blodgett never lost at the Bangor Auditorium, going 14-0 including two state championship game victories.
She averaged 28.8 points per game at the Auditorium and shot 53.4 percent from the floor.
The highlight was a 47-point showing in the EM Class A title game, a 78-69 triumph over arch-rival Cony of Augusta her senior year.
“That was pretty special because we were two of the best teams in the state but we had never met them in the Eastern Maine Tournament. They had always gotten upset in the earlier rounds. That was an exciting time,” said Blodgett, who sewed up the win with six free throws in the last minute.
The trips to Bangor took on a ritualistic nature.
“We would listen to the same warm-up tape on the way up and we would always eat our pre-game meal at Mama Baldacci’s [in Bangor],” said Blodgett.
The fact the large crowds were seemingly right on top of the players added to the dynamic atmosphere, she said.
It was that fan support that led her to Orono.
“Those tournament games provided such a big stage for me. I thought the potential support we could get at Maine would be unparalleled,” said Blodgett whose premonition was correct thanks to her brilliant four-year career that produced the school’s first four NCAA women’s tourney appearances.
She scored 3,005 career points, was a four-time All-American and a two-time America East Player of the Year. She owns 20 school records.
Blodgett has been across the country recruiting and she has seen numerous regional and state tournaments. But the Maine tournaments stand out, she said.
“You definitely don’t get the fan support that you get in Maine. It’s not like any other place,” said Blodgett. “You’ve got the cheerleaders, the bands, the noisy bleachers, all of it.
“What was interesting is one of our assistants, Kelley Gibson, went to the Auditorium last Friday and when she came back, she mentioned that she couldn’t believe the number of fans at the Auditorium,” said Blodgett.